Dakota County administers the Child Care Assistance Program that helps low-income families pay for child care, so they can work, job search, or attend school while moving towards self-sufficiency. Dakota County helps pay for children through age 12 and for children with special needs up to age 14. Learn about the available programs.
Policies for the Child Care Assistance Program are available in the Child Care Fund Plan.
Child care waiting lists
When there is not enough money available to help all families asking for child care aid and the family does not qualify for the Minnesota Family Investment Program/Diversionary Work Program, the county keeps a list of those waiting for help through the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Program. The waiting list will show the date your questionnaire was received and your Priority Level.
You can ask to be added to the list if your gross income is below 67 percent of the State Median Index.
Actual eligibility will not be decided until your name comes to the top of the list and you file an application. If your name is on the waiting list, this does not guarantee eligibility or funding for child care.
Finding a provider
Providers must register with Dakota County before they receive payment from the county for child care. The county will send the parents a Service Authorization form. The parents must sign the form and bring it to the provider. This form approves the parent for county aid. The provider then sends the form to the County, who issues a statement explaining when child care assistance payments can begin and the number of hours that can be paid through assistance.
The form requests the provider to state current rates. The county can pay up to the maximum rates set by the state. If the provider’s rates are higher than the county's maximum rate, the parent pays the difference.
Parents can choose the type of child care they want to use, including day care center, licensed home child care providers or legally unlicensed child care providers. All legally unlicensed providers must provide the following information to the county. A letter from the county will explain the process to authorize legally unlicensed providers:
- Copy of birth certificate or driver's license to verify age.
- Signed statement that they are aware of the potential liability.
- W-9 form to comply with the Internal Revenue Service income reporting requirements.
- Providers must sign a release form to allow a background check to be completed by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Dakota County Social Services.
After authorization, legally unlicensed providers need to retain records of payment for at least three years for audit purposes.